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Energy Hogs Hired at SUNY Cortland


Two pigs, named Muddy and Rocky, graze around solar panels near Stratton Drive on the SUNY Cortland campus
Photo by: Michael Forster Rothbart

No, we aren’t talking about a person, we are talking about a couple of recently hired pigs (literal pigs) to help clean up grass and weeds that surround the solar panels the university has near Route 281.

The first-of-its-kind experiment brings in a special breed of grazing pigs which could someday replace machinery that has difficulties mowing around the solar panels. Currently, SUNY Cortland also has a group of highly skilled sheep to crop the grass around the panels.

Caleb Scott, co-owner of Highland Grazing Ranch in Tompkins County and supplier of the pigs in partnership with United Agriovoltaics, says his company was among the first to commercially graze sheep at solar sites and is excited for the new trial

“As these would be the first solar grazed pigs in the country, we are looking to make history once again,” Scott said.

SUNY Cortland’s director of facilities operations and services Daniel Dryja has overseen the new workers since late July.

“We’ve had a very good experience working with Highland Grazing Ranch,” Daniel said. “They are a very professional, knowledgeable, and personable group of individuals. When they approached the college with the idea of utilizing pigs along with the sheep, I thought it was a great idea. Obviously, we strive to be as sustainable as possible in our endeavors on campus, and if we can help with some experimentation along the way, even better.”

If the pigs successfully pasture at the university for a month, Scott plans to bring a larger herd of pigs back next spring.

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